Gaming On The Go

January 24, 2011

Ours is a sedentary hobby, no doubt about it. Give the average gamer some games, a table and something halfway comfy to sit on and he’s got half of what he needs to kill an entire day. The other half of course being copious amounts of snack food and a group of like-minded friends.

Thing of it is, you’ve got to get there don’t you? You’ve got to get from where you are to where the game and the snacks and the like-minded friends are. And if you’re like most gamers I know you need to do it with a small mountain of mini’s, cards, dice, books, papers, pens, and board games. Today we look at ways to get where you’re going with your gear in the most spatially economical way possible. If nothing else, every cubic inch of space you don’t waste on stuff you don’t need is one more you can use for what’s important; snacks!


is your typical Munchkin core game box. It measures 6 inches wide by 9 long and 2 thick. The average Munchkin card measures about two and a quarter inches wide by about three and a quarter long and I didn’t bother busting out a micrometer to learn how thick. It’s towards the middle of the road as game boxes go. Toward the lower end you’ve got classics like Atlas Games Lunch Money at three and a half by five by one. Toward the higher end you’ve got Descent by Fantasy Flight which could, with a set of glued on legs do service as furniture.

Now, I understand that marketing and the “ten foot test” are important to selling any product and I don’t grudge the manufacturers one bit for what they do. But it’s a lot easier to tote around a dozen games the size of Lunch Money than it is one of Descent. And they’re both top quality games in their own ways.

So what to do? First thing we do is kill all the ….. no! Wait! This isn’t Shakespeare and my kid sister is a lawyer so let’s start over. First thing you do is go out to the grocery store and buy yourself a box or two of these bad boys.

Yes, zip-close sandwich baggies. I’ve been in the hobby for years and these things have really helped me streamline my operation. Admittedly, I tend more towards card games than board but they work a treat with board games of the build-the-board-as-you-go persuasion too. I can fit my entire collection of Zombies! games into a shoebox for cripes sake. Ditch all stuff that isn’t actually part of the game and in many cases you have just cut the amount of space you’re using in half. Put the cards in the little baggies then put the combined decks into a gallon or quart sized bag, preferably with the name of the game on it in magic marker. Keep the boxes though. They will probably come in handy if only when you move to a new place with bigger closets, more book shelves and greater proximity to your favorite geek emporium.

They also come in handy for keeping the various play counters separated in transit. Arkham Horror is a brilliant game if you’ve got an afternoon to kill. Sorting out the various sigil and health and sanity and investigator pieces can take forever. Couple minutes prep time once you get the game home from the store and you’ve just slashed your setup and teardown time significantly. What can I say? I’m all about efficiency. Every minute I don’t have to waste playing “Where’s (insert component name here)?” is one more I get to waste playing the game the component is a part of.

So now you’ve got your games reduced to the bare essentials. What to put them in? Whether you’re driving or taking public transit you need something to lug the games in. This

is a plastic toolbox by the Contico company. My sister-in-law gave me one like it in yellow for Christmas one year. The woman is an uptight, judgmental pain in the butt but she gives good gifts, I’ll say that for her. I’m pretty sure she intended that I put tools in it. Instead I put games in it. That sound you just heard was her once again applying Desk directly to the forehead.

On a typical day I am able to get the following items into it at the same time.

Five Munchkin core games plus at least one expansion.

Three different flavors of Fluxx from Looney Labs

Five different Dungeoneer games by Atlas Games

Lunch Money and Beer Money by Atlas

Let’s Kill by Atlas (what can I say, I really like Atlas games)

All ten Bad B Movie games from Z-Man games

Kung Fu Fighting and More Kung Fu Fighting by Slugfest

One hundred little plastic zombies for the Zombies! line of games

One hundred and eighty assorted dice in various sizes, colors and side numbers

Twelve No. 2 pencils and a sharpener for them

And….for some reason, a fork. I’m not kidding. I just went through my box and there’s a fork in there. What the hell?

The point is you can cram a ton of stuff in one of these things. They are lightweight, designed to be portable and nearly impervious to the weather. I don’t know where you live but I call Minnesota home. Among other things. And we  get all kinds of weather here. Much of it sucks and much of it is not the kind of thing you want to expose your games to.

They work a treat for mini’s too. If you’re a pewter pusher like I’ve been in my time (there’s a reason Mechgogo and Mechwarrior both start with the same four letters) lay down alternating layers of foam and miniatures and you pack a very solid number of figures into one of these and still have room for paints, brushes and other assorted necessaries.

Or if you need a way to transit some of the pre-painted plastic mini’s that Wizards puts out for D&D you can dispense with the foam. I’d advise a bit of organizing by some sort of type but that’s just me. And no I’m not getting any kickbacks from the zip-close plastic baggie industry but thanks for asking.

But what about the big stuff? What about Arkham and it’s half a dozen expansions? Carcassonne, Alhambra or Catan? What about the vast sweeping armies of Crackhammer 40K?

I suppose you could just swing by pretty much any retail store of your fancy and ask if they’ve got any empty boxes you can take off their hands. As a retailer myself I can tell you that most places are all too willing to give out a few of their empties. It’s less stuff they have to haul out to the Dumpster at some point in the day and less time they could spend doing other stuff.

Thing is, unless you live some place where the weather is usually dry and clear that’s not always the best option. Rain and snow are no respecter of cardboard and they will eat your box-and anything made of processed wood pulp within it- for lunch. Painted mini’s don’t exactly thrive under a Midwest or Pacific Northwest downpour either.

To that end, the best thing to do is swing by your local K-Mart or Target and check out the home storage bins.

There’s plenty of big, clear boxes with securable lids available for a reasonable price. A little shifting around and you can probably fit most of your favorite board games in them. Slap a couple inches of foam padding in there and your mini’s are protected. I still recommend you go through the boxes the games came in and ask yourself how much of the original packaging you really need to take with you but that’s just me.

Just remember; the weather doesn’t care what a nice person you are. The rain and the snow will go through those things like BS through a politician. Take a minute and line the inside of the case with a good-sized plastic trash bag. Place your gear inside the bag, close it up and you’ve just saved yourself the expense and bad language of having to replace part or all of your collection. A good coat of Scotch Guard on the outside wouldn’t hurt either. Three bucks between the garbage bag and the spray to save God knows how much in quite possibly out of print games? Works for me.

So, we’ve covered some of the basics. But we haven’t covered what is, perhaps, the most basic.Dice!

Almost every single game out there needs dice for some reason. Magic needs dice to track your mana. D&D needs dice for, well, everything. Miniatures games need them at least for damage and often for whether or not you hit anything in the first place. Dice are the duct tape of the gaming world. Without them (and enough caffeinated beverages to give a rhino a heart attack) our hobby would fall apart at the seams.

So how do we get these indispensable tools of the hobby from where we are to where we’re going? Well, of course there’s always the venerable and respected Crown Royal bag.

Everybody has used one of these at some point in their gaming life. Some people reading this might be using one right now. Then there’s chain mail dice bags, leather pouches from the local ren fest, tubes and, if you really wanna get weird, your pockets. Freaky I know, right?

One that I stumbled on and am probably not alone in is this.

Remember those one hundred and eighty assorted dice I mentioned earlier? One-forty-nine of them are kept in that. It started out life as a twenty-nine ounce container for powdered lemonade mix. Once it was empty I gave it a good washing, dried it out and voila ! Easily portable container for almost two hundred dice of assorted sizes, colors and  shapes. It’s cheap, durable as heck-I’ve had mine since 2005- and the source for them is ubiquitous. Jokes about Mountain Dew and Cheetos  aside, most of us in the hobby like our sugary drinks. I’m willing to bed that if you’re reading this there’s probably a pitcher of Kool-Aid or similar in your fridge right now. Plus it’s good for the environment!

Everybody’s on a recycling kick these days. Remember kids it takes gasoline to get your recycling to the center and then more energy to sort it and turn it into whatever it’s destined to be reincarnated as. So why not eliminate the middle man? You’ve already got a use for it! Why not just turn it into a dice container and save all that pesky hassle?

So, there you have it. A few handy tips on how to take your game on the road. I hope they’ve been helpful, especially to my geek brethren and sisteren (yeah I know it’s not a real word. Bite me ok?) who are stuck using public transit to get where they’re going. Driving around with a carload of games is a minor inconvenience in the loading and unloading. Going cross town on the busses and trains with an army of minis or a decent collection of board and card games can be a quest worthy of Tolkien if you don’t have the right tools for the job.

One final note before I sign off. I’ve been checking the stats and it’s very gratifying to see so many of you reading this blog. I hope I’m entertaining you and passing on a little bit of knowledge and, when the time comes that I make the “Got the money, doors open XX/XX/20XX” post y’all will show up in droves . Until then, I’ve two small favors to ask. First, if you like what you’re reading, hit the subscribe button. It’s free and it only takes a second. Second, whether or not you feel like subscribing pass the word on to your friends and fellow hobbyists. Who knows, maybe something I’ve written or have planned to write will be of interest and use to them. Dunno unless they read it. That’s all for now. See you Wednesday and I’ll be taking you all to the movies!

Til next time

Mech out!





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